Division in Green Party over Hazel Chu’s wish to run in Seanad byelection

Party leadership understood to be against contest by Dublin Lord Mayor

New divisions have arisen in the Green Party over Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu’s wish to run as its candidate in the forthcoming Seanad byelections.

Ms Chu, the party chairperson, won over 3,000 votes in the 2019 local elections and tried unsuccessfully to be included on the party’s slate for last year’s Seanad elections.

It is understood the party leadership is not in favour of running a candidate in the election on the premise the Greens would have little prospect of success among the electorate of 218 TDs and Senators.

Ms Chu is keen to run for the position, according to sources, and believes her profile and position would help win her support from both Government parties and some Opposition TDs and Senators.

She was opposed to her party entering coalition and there have been some tensions in the past between her and party leader Eamon Ryan, both of whom represent Dublin Bay South.

According to two sources, a number of Independent members of the Oireachtas have been informally approached over the past few days to ascertain if they would support a nomination for Ms Chu. The sources said it would be highly unlikely she would receive independent nominations if she stood as an official candidate for the Greens, and by extension, for the Coalition.

Ms Chu was not available for comment on Friday.

Candidates have until March 23rd to gather the required nine nominations from TDs and Senators for the two vacancies in the Upper House: one on the Agricultural Panel and the other on the Industrial and Commercial Panel.

A former Independent senator has announced his intention to become a candidate. Galway-born and Chicago-based publican Billy Lawless confirmed on Friday he will seek a nomination on the Industrial and Commercial Panel. He was one of then taoiseach Enda Kenny’s nominees to the Seanad in 2016.

Referring to the Covid-19 crisis in the hospitality sector, he said: “I am uniquely placed to speak up for the sector, its thousands of owners and employees and its importance to Ireland as a global brand”.

Another former Independent senator, Ian Marshall, is seeking a nomination for the agriculture panel, where he has already secured the backing of Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats.

Fianna Fáil is running former senator Gerry Horkan for the industrial panel, while Fine Gael’s candidate is also a former senator, Maria Byrne.

The Labour Party will run two candidates, Dublin South West candidate Ciarán Ahern and Kildare North councillor Angela Feeney.

The two vacancies arose following the resignation of Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy to take up a position as chief executive of the Irish Association of Investment Management. Sinn Féin senator and former Derry mayor Elisha McCallion resigned after it was disclosed she was in receipt of £10,000 (€11,600) in Covid relief grants under the Small Business Grant scheme in Northern Ireland, for which she was ineligible.

Postal voting will be held between April 7th and April 21st.